Notes from the Walter J. Ong Archive

Ong's Orality-Literacy Publications


Long Bibliography | Short Bibliography

  While Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word is Walter J. Ong's most famous work on oral-written-print-electronic contrasts, Orality and Literacy was never meant to be the capstone to Ong's work as many have taken it to be. As part of the New Accents series, Orality and Literacy was intended to be “an objective exposition of significant developments in its field up to the present as well as an account of its author's own views on the matter” (General Editor's Preface, x). In short, Orality and Literacy should be read as Ong's attempt to write an introductory text that summarized the field as it existed in 1982. While the book does foreground Ong's own ideas, there's much of his own work which he leaves out, and since his was unable to provide Routledge with the asked for updated material for the 2002 second edition, Ong's own reworkings of orality-literacy contrasts over the following 20 years are unknown to those who limit their reading to that book.

  While Ong's many volumes of collected essays, including the four volume Faith and Contexts and The Ong Reader, both edited by Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup, are excellent resources for moving beyond Orality and Literacy, none of them focus specifically on Ong's work on oral-written-print-electronic contrasts but span a number of Ong's interests. Therefore, I have compiled these bibliographies to help those who wish to focus on Ong's work in orality-literacy contrasts. I provide both a long version, which seeks to be comprehensive but not exhaustive, and a short version for those looking for readings to supplement Orality and Literacy. They long are organized chronologically rather than alphabetically to better represent the evolution of Ong's thought.

  I want to stress that these bibliographies are not exhaustive, and they do not necessarily list the full publication history of each item. Intentionally left out are Ong's numerous book reviews and most of his review essays, many of which are excellent, focused discussions not just of the books being reviewed but the field itself. Likewise, the short bibliography is not intended to be a “must-read” or “best of” list of essays, but rather is a sampling of Ong's essays intended to extend the ideas found in Orality and Literacy. Those seeking a comprehensive bibliography of Ong's publications will need to wait until for Thomas Walsh's definitive Ong bibliography, which should be published online later this year.

  Finally, those looking for overviews of Ong's work should see Farrell's introduction to An Ong Reader, Soukup's “Walter J. Ong, S.J.: A Retrospective,” and Strate's “A Media Ecology Review,” and those looking for a more detailed introductions should read Farrell's Walter Ong's Contributions to Cultural Studies.

Farrell, Thomas J. Introduction. An Ong Reader: Challenges for Further Inquiry. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A Soukup. Cresskill: Hampton Press, 2002.

---. Walter Ong's Contributions to Cultural Studies: The Phenomenology of the Word and I-Thou Communication. Cresskill: Hampton Press, 2000.

Soukup, Paul A., S.J. “Walter J. Ong, S.J.: A Retrospective.” Communication Research Trends 23.1 (2004): 3-23.

Strate, Lance. “A Media Ecology Review.” Communication Research Trends 23.2 (2004): 3-48.

See in particular Strate's discussion of Ong and orality-literacy studies on pages 12-15. The whole essay, however, helps contextualize Ong's work on orality-literacy studies, however. As Strate argues, “Ong set the standard and demonstrated the possibilities for scholarship in the media ecology tradition” ( 3).

Long Bibliography | Short Bibliography

Last Modified: 9 June 2006
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